In human medicine, the biggest part of medical expenses are caused by chronic treatments, and most patients in hospitals are decompensated chronic patients.
In some sense, modern Veterinary science is very similar to human medicine: thanks to vaccines, good pet food, and responsible owners who walk their dogs on the lead, most pathologies we see daily at the practice are chronic processes. Not a long time ago, the most common emergencies were car accidents, bites and poisonings. Fortunately, nowadays these accidents are less and less common.
The biggest part of our patients are chronic ones, showing cardiac, immunological, hormonal and articular problems. These pets usually need long term treatments, even for life in some cases. Most owners understand perfectly what a chronic treatment implies, but it’s relatively common that, as time goes by, they get “relaxed” about following strictly the treatment.
The lack of compliance of the instructions given by the Vet is the most common cause of failure of the treatment.
The most common mistakes are:
- After finishing the first box of pills, the owner believes the treatment is over, so the pet is not brought back to the practice for a check. This is specially frequent in cardiac pathologies, since the owner is unable to see a negative evolution (except when the animal starts coughing again), so it looks like the animal got rid of the problem. Something similar happens with Leishmaniasis, another typical chronic process: 2-3 months after finishing the cycle of injections, it looks like the dog is back to normal since it has recovered its normal weight and attitude, so in some cases, the owner stops the complementary treatment consisting on tablets, which makes that, sooner or later, a new cycle of injections will be required.
In some other pathologies such as diabetes, urinary incontinence or skin allergies, quitting the treatment is less common, since a few days without it makes the symptoms re-appear brutally.
We consider a chronic patient needs a complete check twice a year minimum.
- Another common mistake is to think that the pattern and the dosage of the treatment will not vary at all. Whatever the pathology is, sooner or later, depending (or not) to the answer of the patient, the Vet will increase or decrease the dosage, or will stop the treatment. The process may last for life, but the treatment may not. A good example could be osteoarthritis: if a pet suffers a serious articular problem and the subsequent pain makes it have difficulties for walking and moving, the very first thing is to treat the pain, make it loose weight and adapt its daily routine to the new condition. Probably the animal will need a big amount of painkillers at the first stages, but if we can manage to make it loose enough weight, in some cases we will be able even to stop the painkillers, despite the osteoarthritis will be there for life. It’s a common sense matter not to start or stop a treatment without asking the Vet first.
The Vet must prescribe the minimum quantity of medicines which is necessary for controlling the problem, otherwise pet’s health (and owner’s pocket), will suffer.
Chronic problems may be very frustrating for the owner, and they may reduce dramatically the quality of life of the animal. For this reason (pet’s welfare), a good communication between Vet and owner is crucial.
Liliana Aldeguer Cerdán col 793
English translation by Sergio Reina Esteban col 747
Gran Alacant Exotics
Tel: 966 698 569